Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Shangri-Las - "The Train from Kansas City"

One of the coldest lines in any song ever: "I'll be back in the time it takes to break a heart."


I did some work for school with a classmate this morning, from a Dumbo classroom overlooking the skyline of Manhattan. I saw wet trains glowing in the sun, these golden streaks of light moving over the bridge. The sky was a blue that made me slightly delirious; it was some form of happiness that took you in its big blue arms and shook you around. I stepped out of the house today into blue. It was after the tornado, as you walked out your door and you crossed over from your black and white world straight into that of Oz. The world was in technicolor today. Weeks of snow and freezing temperatures had rendered the world in just grays and whites. I forgot about these other colors, these other modes of feeling, the brightness to it all.


On a stoop somewhere in the Lower East Side, sun shining on me, the sky so blue, still so overwhelmed with these feelings brought on by a blue sky and temperatures above freezing, I ate a chicken burrito from Mission Cantina. Beans spilling all over me. Everyone was out today, the weather bringing out all of the beautiful humans in beautiful clothes enjoying what it is to live in New York City and walk around on days like today after being cocooned inside for so long and seeing all of this beauty - people, blue sky, sunlit streets, smiles on face. A sense of leisure to it all - that one didn't need to race from indoor point to indoor point today just to escape the cold. There was a lot of strolling. I walked around the city. I looked at some galleries in Chelsea. I saw many future potential husbands gallery hopping as well. I fell in love so many times today.

There was woman on 11th Avenue outside of a building, smoking, leaning against the brick wall. The scene held the light of the sun that was beginning its descent over New Jersey. Everything was gold, glowed from within, the woman, the brick wall behind her, the sidewalk we both were on. There wasn't much oncoming traffic to ruin the scene.

There were so many beautiful unphotographed photographs today.

"The Train from Kansas City" is such a sad story, which, really, I guess is any Shangri-Las song. It's a story of doomed romance, of bad boys, of broken hearts. The singer addresses the song to her fiancé, telling him about her ex, how he had moved out of town but how he thought they were still together and sent her letters all the time. She says he is coming into the train station to see her. She tells her fiancé to wait, just wait, while she runs to the train station to break this guy's heart, that she will be "back in the time it takes to break a heart." Then there is the repeated and quickening chorus of "here comes the train, here comes the train" as the train and this guy approach, the chorus sounding more and more uncertain about what that means, about whether the singer is actually going to break up with the guy from Kansas City, whether she is going to have an affair with him, or whether she might actually be planning to get on train with him and run away to Kansas City. Who knows? She is a shady heartbreaker. I want to know how the story ends. Everything about the song is so great, particularly since pop songs usually don't build up a story just to end before coming to any resolution. Instead, it ends right there, right at the build-up, refusing to indulge your need for closure.

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